It’s the age old question.
First, most important, it must ACTUALLY look like you. I mean it must REALLY look like you. This is not the airbrushed-and-I-am-perfect “you”. This is the “you” that is actually going to walk into the audition room. It can be the beautiful “you” but it must be the real beautiful you. You will not disappoint the audition room if you really look like your photo.
Here is how you get around trying to find that one perfect headshot…
Use different headshots for different goals (and put the online).
different goals, different headshots
Put multiple “looks of you” on your website and online actor profiles (Actors Access, etc) and that will be your own subversive way of suggesting to others the multiple ways that your looks can change.
The pics that you lead with for T.V. versus indie film versus theater versus commercials are all potentially different from each other. And probably one is different than what you lead with for comedy versus drama. So instead of trying to put all of these contradictory elements into ONE headshot (impossible), your online presence is going to be where you suggest the range of looks that you are capable of creating for the various types of roles.
Every Casting Director and every Director has a different aesthetic.
Film Director Steven Soderbergh may prefer a naturalistic off-the-streets look for The Knick or any of his films (he loves to use unknown faces) to enhance believability of the story. Film Director Michael Bay prefers bombshell beauty to sell to the masses for Transformers. So, I think it’s fair to say that you can’t make one headshot that is going to satisfy everyone’s needs.
Hence, get a few different looks and offer them all online.
When I was casting I was often surprised to find that many Directors, Producers, & Writers can’t quite imagine a makeover on an actor, so you have to feed it to them in your photos. Someone had to have real vision and trust that Charlize Theron could be made-over and become a serial killer prostitute in Monster. So, again, offer up varieties of ways that you can look.
for every example, there is an opposite example
Have several current options easily available for submitting appropriate photos to appropriate roles.
Cater your submission (if you submit one pic) with the image that best inspires the role. Submit a quirky smile for comedy or funny best friend. Submit serious and soulful for an indie drama.
And… aim to feel good about your photos! That will help you hold your head higher with confidence when you submit and then walk into the role.
You are ready – go forth and create the imagery that inspires others to build films and TV shows off of you!